Tuesday, December 18, 2012
With the stroke of a pen, San Diego Mayor Bob Filner approved a measure aimed at keeping foreclosed properties from falling into disrepair. The Property Value Protection Ordinance requires the title-holders of foreclosed homes, generally banks, to register with the city. That way code enforcement officers know whom to contact if the property is not maintained.
Filner said the registry will help deal with the fallout from foreclosures.
“Foreclosure is bad enough,” he said. “It hurts families, it hurts neighborhoods. But let’s not add insult to injury with the houses that become blighted.”
Title-holders also will pay a fee to cover the expense of creating and maintaining the registration system and the cost of monitoring, inspecting and investigating the properties. The ordinance authorizes the assessment of administrative civil penalties for failing to comply with the registration requirements.
The registry ordinance passed the San Diego City Council on a party-line vote, with the five Democrats supporting it and the four Republicans opposing it. Councilwoman Lorie Zapf said the ordinance creates a $460,000 bureaucracy and doesn't really solve the problem. Only 23 percent of homes that go into default actually become foreclosed properties and of those, only a fraction become blighted, she said. Zapf said a separate law that deals with blight from abandoned homes goes a long way toward taking care of the issue.
The problem of abandoned properties with overgrown weeds, broken windows and other signs of neglect has been especially acute in Barrio Logan and South San Diego neighborhoods represented by the author of the ordinance, Councilman David Alvarez. The measure will go into effect in about two months.